Pledge. Thesis Diaries part 6?

So.  Another ‘p’ word for you.  Just now, I was thinking about commitment.  More specifically about commitment to big projects, making goals for oneself, etc.  Even love can be a goal to commit to.  For me, though, I’ve found that this year I’ve had too many things to commit to, yet because all of them are self-orientated tasks, it’s easier for me to give up on some.  Like my tarot card project over on DA.  While I haven’t given up on it, I’ve temporarily put it aside, leaving it half finished, and leaving me feeling disappointed in myself.  My writing project: the Curse Mark, is also on hiatus, only because I find myself unable to continue where I’d stopped.  I think my issue there though is that there were too many plots going on in my head and I didn’t think to draw out a picture to make it clearer.  I’ve started countless projects this year–some I have indeed completed and to which I felt much better doing so after, and others, of course, are still unfinished.

Completed

  • Major Arcana of the Tarot Card Project
  • Digital Manips of the Western Zodiac
  • And Which Way Alice (I consider it a small term goal that required a lot of effort)
  • Series Ender Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club
  • Series Starters Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club
  • Standalone Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club
  • TBR Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club
  • Colours Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club
  • Contemporary Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club

Incomplete

  • Minor Arcana of the Tarot Project
  • My steampunk Airballons Digital Manip (still have to upload it)
  • 2 requested/for fun wallpaper ideas for digital manips that I haven’t had the energy or inspiration to do yet
  • The Curse Mark Project
  • A number of short stories
  • A number of poems
  • ABC Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club
  • Classics Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club
  • 2015 Debut Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club
  • Mythology Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club
  • Graphics novel Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club
  • Months Challenge for the Quarterly Book Club

Long Term Goals

  • PhD thesis
  • Writing Project: Golden Phoenix

Of everything, I feel like I did accomplish a few things this year, but at the same time, I don’t feel all round accomplished.  I had things I committed to, but didn’t and couldn’t complete (though for the reading, I still have a month to go!  But still, I know I overcommitted.  But how can you help it?  There are so many things you want to do and just can’t say no to.

 

My point is this.  Your thesis, as I’m already thinking about how it’d be like, and if I was to give it a metaphor, it’d be like a Marriage or a Relationship.  It’s a commitment.  It’s not something small or temporary like all the little commitments I’ve listed above.  You’re going to be in this relationship with your thesis for three years (full timers, longer for part timers).  You’re going to definitely hate it at one point.  Love it at other times.  Hopefully you’ll love it more than you hate it.  I’ve already talked about needing to have passion.  Well you need a lot of it.  You wouldn’t get into a relationship halfheartedly would you?  Or maybe you would, but you’d have to have some reason for doing so, right?  I decided to undertake my PhD because I want to teach at Uni.  I want to lecture on a topic I really love, and teaching in primary or high school just doesn’t really appeal to me.  There are other reasons why.  For one, my topic that I’ve chosen is something really close to my heart.  Hopefully, it’s not so close that I won’t be able to dissect it.  But it’ll be close enough that regardless of the arguments we’ll have together, the reluctance on my part to pull  my weight, and the ability of my thesis’ part to be less of a puzzle and more straightforward, I won’t stop moving forward.  I’m only 4 months in.  It hasn’t felt very long, yet my first milestone is coming up.

 

And sometimes, I’m afraid of the commitment.  If my goals listed above is anything to go by, I am both capable of being committed, yet liable to give up if overcommitted.  But I won’t break my pledge.  My pledge that I will see this all the way through even if all that’s left of me is a sack of bones.  Well hopefully there’ll still be flesh.  I’m hoping it’ll be flesh and a number of accomplishments I can be proud of (even though right now, my heart is already palpitating in fear of what I might not end up achieving.  I have so many goals lined up for the next three years, it’s like the lists above multiplied by three.)  If you’re like me, just a little bit of an overachiever, aiming too much for too many things, then maybe it’s time for us to stop.  Take a break.  Think.  Not give up, but just relax a bit!

 

In order to make this marriage work, I’ll need to plan better.   I can’t always study.  But I can’t always slack either.  I can’t make a big list of goals and expect to complete them without a clear plan.  I want to treat this relationship properly and give it all the attention it deserves after all.

 

That’s just it though.  How am I going to plan a writing schedule I can keep?  I don’t know.  It’ll be hard to plan three years ahead, but if I have a rough idea of what will happen when, I think I’ll be more reassured.  At the same time, it’s best if I don’t give myself a really tight schedule, because then stress will be cranked to the max and I will be exhausted.  I’ll also want to enjoy myself, attend conferences, work, have a social life. So, I have to figure it out and think carefully about my schedule.  But dayummmm it’s daunting!

 

And knowing myself, I know my reading and writing schedule will look a little crazy (the deadlines will be a little close and a little impossible but that’s why I make leeway time for myself so that I know I have this much more time to perfect it), but hey, I know I’ll be motivated by the pressure to at least turn out a rough, albeit terrible draft, and then take a break for a bit, because I’ll feel happier that I did something.   And something, is better than nothing!

 

P.s.  Sometimes I why I write these particular posts about my phd journey. But I suppose in my long winded messy way, I’m trying to express what I want to accomplish and do and advise on while on this journey as I’m going a long, but sometimes, I think I should just take my own advice lol!  Rather than spouting it out all on you guys!

Procrastination. Thesis Diaries part 4?

Oh dear…this topic…I bring it up, sadly, because over the last few days, despite the scholarly book in front of me, and the articles up in various tabs on my computer, I haven’t felt like I’ve read much.  Instead, I horrify myself by spending hours and hours on something else….namely, a little project in photoshop.  I don’t know what possessed me to do so, but the other day, sometime either Thursday or Friday last week, I became obsessed with the idea of REALLY trying to create an indepth, detailed wallpaper.  Though, this time, not for my own computer.  I just used the 1366 x 768 dimensions as a foundation.  I really don’t know what possessed me.  It was spontaneous, nutty, and obsessive.  And at the same time, it wasn’t like I wasn’t studying.  I was.  But that’s the problem you see, since although I did do reading, and I did scan through texts, I didn’t do half as much as I probably could if I spent the whole day focussed.

But well.  From Bachelors to Honours to now, PhD, procrastination has become a bigger and bigger problem for me.  And I know why.  It’s because unlike my mum, I don’t believe in having to study all day.  I believe in taking breaks.  Spend an hour reading to a certain page of my book, then take an hour break.  Or depending on the mood.  If stressed, restrict my break time to lunch time, and spend the morning accomplishing a number of goals.  More than anything, I hate feeling like I’ve done nothing!  And so, for many years now, I’ve learnt that it’s important to have these mini goals.  Today, I haven’t really done much.  But yesterday, I made it a goal to finish off the last 30 odd pages of a book I was reading that had been suggested by my associate supervisor (down under, we have two supervisors, one is Main, and the other is the associate), and read one article, as well as go through a few pages of a text I’m looking at.  I did that, and I also got a little further on something else.

Remember I said something came over me?  Well this is what I was working on for many hours–thankfully I don’t study after dinner.  I only study during the day when my head is screwed on tightest, unlike at night, where friends are prone to receiving, odd, nonsensical text messages from me–clearly, I can’t think half as well.  The good thing about not being able to study in the evenings is that I can take on private tutoring and other night shifts for the moment.  And on days with nothing like that of the sort, and since at current, my social life is nil since all my friends are busy with their own careers (there’s just something about this time of the year that has everyone in a frenzy), it’s a perfect time for working on other things.   Such as digital art in Photoshop.  I’ve always been interested in it, but never really had the courage or time to explore various techniques in the past.  In the past, it was always much easier to just get out the sketchbook and draw with pencil and fineliner.  These days I don’t have as much time (and apparently I stress less if I have the laptop in front of me….maybe it’s because everything is digitally stored in soft copy everywhere), and yet have more time to explore and experiment with photoshop.

And so when the desire hit, I just went with it.  My nights over the last few days have been dedicated to this project, which!  I will we be uploading onto my DeviantART Profile here: N-arteest with a full description and list of credits for the stock used.  But for now, because I’m writing this here in a very brief procrastination post about procrastination, lord knows why I’m doing such a thing, I’ll post a few of the Work In Progress images ;).  My dear readers, this is my little gift to you, and well, I’m just really glad it’s mostly finished now.  I can’t believe it took around 12 – 14hrs approx to complete (mostly because I only worked on it at night, and I changed my mind several times, particularly about how it would look.)

The Original Concept

Work in progress 1

This is the original concept I had.  I didn’t really know what I was doing, since I had all these beautiful stock images, some of which I blended together (Like on the right) yet, left me with no wiggle space as to what to do next.  I was so frustrated by this, I didn’t know what to do, so I spent the next day…while reading, and trying to draw lines with all the dots of information I had for my PhD research, thinking about what I wanted to conceptualise in my wallpaper digital thingy!

Work in progress 2

I changed my concept to this.  With a giant stone plinth covered in moss.  And I started thinking of a ‘Which Way Alice’.  Something that was also sparking in my head the day before, with all the paths I had laid out for the female.  So what if I made a concept based on someone given a variety of choices?  And then I started thinking about myself, and about the future, and about the choices we can all potentially make that might seem good, but aren’t.  I mean, even in the original concept I was already considering the idea of making all the various paths seem innocent, yet really, in the depths, it’d show some silent warnings.  The hidden dangers.

Work in progress 3

I’ve added the Archways here, and there, you can see the original concepts there too ^^.   With ‘Alice’ looking on, perhaps wondering which way is the right way to go.

Work in progress 4

And the Last Screenshot here, the last sneak peak before the whole thing goes up on my DA, I’ve gone in for a close up.  The lamp post.  I didn’t know how I would do this part, but when I saw the stock, I knew I wanted a lamp post.  I originally had a vague image in my head of signs surrounding Alice, each one saying something seductive about the various entrances.  But in the end, this is what was conceived.  A sign.  And signs, with a few little touches.  There’s what seems like blood, red paint of some such covering over the part of the signs that says ‘warning’, ‘danger’, and ‘the Future’.  On the other side, there’s the sign labelling the Way Back.  But of course, there’s a chicken standing on it.

In a way, this was kind of related to my PhD, not that I’m doing something based on Alice in Wonderland or anything.  Nor is my research an art project.  But there are similar themes between this and that that seem familiar to me, and in a way, for me to feel less guilty about spending so many hours procrastinating–which I still did because during the day, during breaks, I sometimes scrolled through a whole bunch of stock images when I should have been reading.

And well, yes, I should add here, to sign off for today, that it’s bad to procrastinate!  But we all know that’s a lie.  WE can’t help procrastinating.  Rather, it’s how you manage it, how you tone down the stress and guilt, and do enough research, as well as take enough breaks that’s important.  Burning out early on, with Passion turning into a Passionate Hate, isn’t how you want to spend the three-four years of your PhD.

Untitled.

All I hear

is the silent scream

of the girl next door

whose heart is roaring in pain

as her voice fades

into the neverending rain.

[n.b.] random….little snippet that popped into my head just now.

Passion. Thesis Diaries part 3?

This time will DEFINITELY be short!

I have really only one thing to say.  Being around 3 months into my PhD, I have learnt (though I already knew, seeing as I can’t help but think about things in the long term) that when it comes to your Doctor of Philosophy, and to all the years you’ll spend doing it, the most important thing is this:  Passion.  You have to love what you want to do, have to want to study it immensely, have to have the desire to make a change about something (even if it’s really small, that’s fine! Just don’t think about a Nobel Prize just yet–you’re not ready, or that might be too big a goal if you’re just starting out), and most of all, you absolutely cannot think ‘This sucks. This is boring.  It’s so bloody dry.  I hate this.’

There are a lot of pressures of life, I’m beginning to notice that will make one think about the ‘job opportunities’ that lay at the other end of the continuum–things like financial situation, peer and parental pressure, reality.  Those sorts of things.  But while, I can’t really say so myself, not really, since I haven’t yet passed all my lifetime milestones, I do want to say this.  I want to be able to say next year, or the year after, or the year after that, that I love what I’m doing.  I want to be able to light up, have sparkles in my eyes, and good hair, when I say ‘I have no regrets’ with the choice I made–one that, in the beginning, may not have been very  practical at all.  Yet it’s the fact that there was Passion that makes me light up like that.

Even though it’s hard, and sometimes inconceivable, I want to be able to make choices in the future that aren’t half-heartedly, that are full of careful thought and reckless yet passionate choices.  It’ll be hard.  But before I even began my PhD, I never wanted to not do it.  Even if I faltered half a dozen times and had to endure a long and agonising wait for my application to be processed.

In the end though–particularly today as I sat with my Supervisors in our almost monthly meetings, I could feel it in the air.  I just couldn’t shut up about what I felt and thought even though my brain kept telling my mouth ‘you’re boring people!’  It just kept flowing out of me, what I loved and what I found so far.  And I knew in that moment, I didn’t want to be studying any other topic.  This topic is mine.  I thought it up.  I picked the area.  And though it might seem like an English Literature research, I will definitely make it Linguistics.  This topic is mine.  And I will make it significant in the future, even though I am soooooooo daunted right now, I’m a bit scared I might wet my pants, and I have never done that ever.

So.  (And crap, because bloody hell, this was longer than I had planned!)  Passion.  Find a topic you’re really passionate about when it comes to postgraduate studies, don’t just pick from a list–unless you’re someone who grows into the topic and becomes passionate later on–it’ll just kill you over the two (masters/depends on the masters course) or three (or four or more depending on the PhD course).  Pick something you’ll love–it’ll define you later.  And you don’t want to hate it, right?

Thank you.

It would be nice if I added pictures and gifs in this post, but I don’t want to overshadow the words I want to say.  It’s been three years since I had first made my blog (not exactly 3 years, but approx is close enough), and I have done a lot on here, and also, not enough.  Lately, I have been feeling low, down, and conflicted about various things, but like always, I’m taking it like a champ and going to surge through this to find the bright happy spot on the other side.

In truth, I’ve been meaning to say this for a long time.  Since sometimes I feel like I haven’t said it enough, shown it enough, or even reflected on it enough.  So today’s brief and very somewhat uncharacteristic post of mine, is this:

I want to say Thank You to all my friends, my family, for being there,

for giving me support and advice whenever I untangle my voice from the monster in my throat.

I want to say Thank You to all fellow bloggers for popping in,

and seeing what rubbish I write,

and what pops out of my head at random moments

of a supposedly busy day.

Most of all, I want to say

Thank You 

to everyone who likes my posts,

who comment

who reads

and who have stuck with me

for so long…you have become old friends.

And this,

is my appreciation,

for how much I appreciate you.

I am so grateful,

a feeling so ineffable,

that makes me want to reach through

this virtual world and hug you.

So Thank You.

Thank You All.

❤ ❤ ❤

Paralysis. Thesis Diaries part 2?

This’ll be short.  But on Friday (11th Sep), I went to a Postgraduate Researcher Development seminar about ‘defeating self sabotage’.  Admittedly, I was one of few who were in the early stages of their project–at one month to one and a half months old, I was surprisingly not the freshest PhD student in the room.  There were a couple of two monthers, and there was a guy who was only two weeks in!  This surprised the speaker at the front of the room, because she had expected a lot of six monthers or older students.  But to me, I have barely even started and yet I can definitely fear everything they spoke about on Friday.  It’s not hard.  I wasn’t extremely confident when I did my Honours, and right before I finished my third year, I was already shaky, constantly thinking, what the hell am I doing?  Can I really do this?  Who’s going to think I’m capable?  My work is absolutely shit.

Yeah.  Not hard at all for me to think any and nearly all of these things.  Of course when it comes to writing academically, I got through a myriad of issues–Perfectionism, Procrastination, Imposter Syndrome…you name it, and I’ve probably experienced it already!  And that’s mostly because I myself am someone who has a lot of positivity, but sometimes not enough confidence.  Confidence fluctuates.  It will no matter how confident you are as a person, if enough bad things happen, or not enough good things happen, then it’s easy to feel lacking in confidence (I almost used the word ‘unconfident’ which I don’t think it’s a real word, yet I’m sure it’s been used and as a linguist, I am disinclined to think that it would be wrong for me to say that it’s not a real word.)

And indeed, it hits when you least expect it.  After the big confidence boost I got on Friday (I have a supervisor meeting with both my supervisors, and then the seminar in the afternoon, which while interesting, I actually zoned out at some point by accident–lack of sleep, so bad of me!) yesterday, I did nothing.  I had actually intended to further develop the ideas from the supervisory meeting on Friday, however, when I woke up, I had no desire to get up, and stayed in bed for an hour longer than usual.  Then I did get up, but had no intention of really doing anything work related because for three weeks straight, I had been working non-stop and never really feeling I was going anywhere.  So instead, I planned to go out.  With my mum.  So much fun (slightly sarcastic tone since I’m highly aware of how tedious shopping can become with my mum, since it tends to take longer than planned, and then it usually never goes the way I want it to!) which, at the end of the day, didn’t turn out so bad.  In planning such, I didn’t really expect to be lumped with a whole bunch of spring cleaning chores.  And for the these last few days to have been full of absolutely beautiful weather, sure didn’t dissuade my mother from assigning me to the washing and then after that–cleaning up the yard.

I surprisingly managed to take it all with ease, and not mind at all.  Then again, yesterday I was half asleep and it didn’t help that I wasn’t in much of a mood to argue.  I just wanted to go out, and subconsciously, I was probably also thinking I don’t want to do my thesis stuff.  I’m pretty motivated for my project.  I really want to do it, and have invested a lot of my feelings.  But, it’s also kind of really scary.  I can see my deadlines ahead of me.  I’m really aware of the fact that in just under 11 months I’ll have reached the first year of my phd and be required to do a presentation for the confirmation about where I’m up to.  And then, after that, I have another twelve months.  And then the home stretch in 2017-2018.  Three years seems like such a long time, but right now, it seems like it’s also not enough time.  Particularly, and it kind of makes me glad I decided to write something RIGHT NOW about thesis stuff, I didn’t realise that the Confirmation stage is in about 11 months and not 6 months.

You see, this morning, I woke up, got up almost immediately (around 8.30am because hey today’s a beautiful day and I couldn’t resist the vision of sunlight pouring through the curtain slits), showered, then spent over an hour preparing breakfast (wouldn’t let anyone else help me, plus their breakfast was on me for once), and only a while ago sat down.  It was when I sat down did I feel it.  Paralysis.  A mental paralysis.  Just yesterday and Friday I had motivation and an inkling of an idea of what I wanted to do next.  But the moment I sat down, I realised, a wave of panic came over me, and I didn’t know what I should be doing.  I just had this sudden mental blank.  And it abhors me to know that I could suddenly think ‘what am I supposed to be looking at?’  It makes me wonder if this is happening now, why? And then, what about when it happens next?

I think what terrified me most when I sat down, was the fact that on Friday, I went through so much with my supervisors, and this morning, I was thinking about how long until Confirmation.  And I think, for those of us who are so fresh to the course, to the exciting possibility of being someone great in three years time (well not mindblowingly great, but yet, in three years, you’ll have a title, and also, a field of expertise which one will further build on in the future), and if you’re like me, who tends to freak out excessively at the introduction of new things before calming down for the duration, before freaking out at the end again, then it would still be pretty overwhelming.   Maybe for me right now, I’m still overwhelmed by the future, by my project, and that, in order to feel less overwhelmed, I overwork and research and try to fill the hole even though it’s only been one and a half months into the PhD program.  I think, what I really need is to sit back, take a deep breath and remember, I am not alone, I am only just beginning, and I can do this.  I also think, that I am trying too hard to think that ‘I am not good enough’ right now and trying to accommodate that by working ahead, but for this course, I don’t think there’s such things as being able to work ahead.  Research is constantly evolving and developing, and at best, I can only keep up.  What I shouldn’t do right now though, is lose focus.   If I concentrate on my topic, read about more literature and take deep breaths (aka, also known as taking a break), then the next three years will be both the most stressful thing in my life, but also, most likely, and hopefully, three years in which I can say I was really proud of myself.  And hopefully, remembering these things will help me defeat my temporary mental paralysis (which I’m hoping was only a one of thing, because even for me, I’ve never really had such a mental blank/fear before–exams, while always scary and tense, were things I was always prepared for.)

On another note, here’s the beautiful book I bought when I went out shopping yesterday:

I finally got my hands on the new Throne of Glass novel and I’m excited! Can’t wait to get the chance to read it!!!  (But it’s big, bigger than Heir of Fire, though not by much.)  Whoops, not exactly the best picture, but love the cover!

Whooops this wasn’t as short as I planned.  And also, next time I’ll add some more pictures! >.< so it isn’t a whole chunk of writing.

Random Post. Thesis Diaries part 1?

To be honest, I’m not sure why I’m writing this post today.  I woke up this morning, later than usual.  Rather than some good pre-spring sunlight shining through the curtains of my room, it’s dark.  For a moment, I thought it was still night time.  Still some whacky incomprehensible hour before 7am where most rational (if they aren’t working at job that requires being awake at that hour) people are still sleeping, dreaming of muffins and ugly shoes.  I dreamed ugly shoes onto my friend’s feet once, it was totally random, yet when I woke up the next morning that was the only part of the dream I could remember!  It was odd too, since my friend doesn’t even wear ugly shoes!  She has such great taste, maybe I was jealous? Though I like my shoes too, I suppose having small feet makes it a very limited choice when it comes to buying shoes.  But well, the mind works in mysterious ways.  And I’ve ever dreamed of muffins–dreaming of food is a big no-no, I greatly dislike waking up starved!  So I’ve somehow engineered my brain to think of other things.  Such as my dream last night.  I actually really enjoyed that dream, only, like always…those dreams have a knack of running away from me as soon as I open my eyes.

Nonetheless, after a week of sunshine last week and early wake ups in which I actually wanted to wake up and go and make my work station in the kitchen, sit down with oats for breakfast and start reading the academic literature I’ve got piled up, printed and stapled, I found myself wanting to lie in bed a little longer.  It was pouring was absolutely pouring outside, and the sky was white and grey with clouds, and even though I wasn’t tired, the bed was just too comfortable.

But I have work to do.

My life is pretty simple right now, the most dominant factor is that recently I began my postgraduate studies.  I am nutty enough to take on the P. H. D.  Three of the most daunting letters I’ve ever encountered in my life.  If you asked me four years ago when I started my undergraduate if I would ever think of doing my doctorate once I finished honours, I would have looked at you as though you have three eyes, tail feathers, and holding a chihuahua, and said, “Come again?”  It just wasn’t comprehensible.  I mean, I don’t mind studying, have always had an interest in knowing me, but asking me if I ever wanted to be an expert in the field….honestly, I don’t think and have never thought I’d have the balls for it.   Well, I don’t have balls actually, but you get the expression.

And this morning, while I lay there in bed, I found myself thinking back–you’re never too young to reflect on your life, but it sure as hell made me feel old!  I feel like I’m walking into the beginning of a crucible that will last three years.  And I thought, Omg what have you got yourself into?  The inner dialogue in my head this morning:

Brain:  Get up.

Me:  It’s warm.

Brain:  The shower has warm water.

Me:  The walk between here and there is too cold.

Brain:  But you’ll be cleannnnnn (so the brain entices)

Me:  Bed.  Warm.  I have everything I need.  Even reading materials here….(looks to the books on the bookshelf, looks to her phone).

Brain:  …..

Me:  (grins stupidly)

Brain:  Do you know what they call lying in bed for no reason other than to avoid getting up and doing some work?

Me:  A BREAK?!

Brain:  PROCRASTINATINGOMGWHENDIDMYHOSTBECOMEANIDIOT

Me: Geez no need to overact, clearly if we’re having this conversation, my brain is in the right place.  At least it functions effectively unlike some defective….

Brain: get up get up get up (wails)

Me: No.

Brain: yes.

Me: No.

Brain:  yes.  There’s hot chocolate if you get up.

Me: (Contemplates this, considers the time it takes to make hot chocolate, how warm the shower is….) Okay.

Brain:  SUCCESS.  Self sabotage averted, the host is finally moving, may her research grow in peace…

As you can see from the above, by the time I arrived here in my kitchen–for my room is a terrible study space, though I don’t think I will camp out at my kitchen table for the next three years to study since it would be impossible to concentrate for three days straight if I tried.  But for now it’s okay.  It’s a nicer, open space, more air that’s not as stale as that in my room (even when I open my window, my room is just so blah), and even if I look out the window–this is surprising so depressing to note–all I see are backyard fences, and dead trees (well sort of dead, the fig tree I can see out of the windows on my left has been planted in the garden for two years now, but due to some defect–haunted or otherwise though we suspect that it’s just bad soil–in the land, anything on that side of the house never grows.  Or at least, they live for a period of time, before after struggling for years, they give in and dry up.  Surprisingly though, the plum tree that has been trying to grow for eight years, has actually still kept marching on, even managing to give us a very sour, unripened (cut early by accident), plum last year.  We were so proud we cut it into three pieces and shared it among the three of us, shoving it in one shot.  I think one of us consumers actually spat it back out.  But well, at least we tried it.  And we’re still proud, hopefully this year will actually give us some sweet plums.)

Procrastination.  My biggest enemy.  And I have procrastinated again by writing this, flexing those writing muscles, glancing over at the academic literature, reading one page before coming back.  Nervously excited for the research, BUT HECK IT’S DAUNTING, and already, I see it becoming a huge mess.  However, my goal, for eternity, is to defeat procrastination and also, since I am always, and forever in a civil war with my stress, I plan to figure out a way push it off a cliff sometime.  Both procrastination and stress are big hurdles to jump over, but I figure, if you plan well, you’ll manage both well.  I don’t believe in stressing only.  I believe if you’re stressing or hating or angry at something, isn’t it better to deal with it first?  Even if it’s only for an hour, spend it reading a book, sitting where you’re comfortable, will make you feel better afterwards.  When I first started a month or so back, I stressed real bad (and still stressing) because it felt like I should know everything and already have a clear idea of how to do my project.  No one knows anything when they start their postgrad projects.  You are nothing, you are the ant walking across the football oval, you are a bee in a hive of others, you are one tea leaf in a teacup.  But the prospect that you’ll become an expert by the end, is daunting, and for someone like me, starting such a big project is stressful because my foresight in the future doesn’t extend further than a month.  For a while, I had some how managed to project my entire three years into a week, and of course, such a thing sent my stress skyrocketing, since it was all so overwhelming.  But once I started settling in at uni, meeting supervisors and hearing them tell me what I should do to really begin my research, and as I did start reading the literature, the schedule in my head started to de-warp and stretch, slowly flexing back to its natural shape–three years.  It’s both a long time, and also, not that long.  If you plan properly, you will pass in a breeze.  And since I am clearly only just beginning, I plan to plan well.

Of course, once I defeat procrastination and keep myself happy along with everything else that could upset the balance of ‘successfully completing this’ and ‘being a failure’.  

Things to do in the next week:

  1. Read.  I have to read the literature.  Figure out the holes that I need to fill.
  2. Write.  Academic writing is the bane of my writing existence.  I feel like I try to hard to sound sophisticated.  Academic Language is sadly not an inborn talent, but a time consuming, arduous task that makes me feel like an idiot and not worthy of writing!
    1. I wonder, major I should start a Dictionary section?
  3. Map. First time in a long time I’ll be mapping out my academics before writing.

For no.4 I have discovered I really don’t know how to make nice charts.  I don’t suppose anyone knows how to make an inverted smartart object/relationship hierarchy chart thing?  Actually, does anyone know a good program? I have Free Mind Mapping, and I’ve used smart art in Word.  But it’s just not the same, doesn’t really cover what I want.  

And that, dear readers is the end of a random rant/journal entry of my beginning experiences of my journey.  There’s actually a lot more to tell, and the above hasn’t done a very good job of telling, but I had to get it out.  I don’t know how many of these I’ll do over the next three years, but in a way, I think it’ll be important for me to document my journey.  And I guess I want to be truthful to myself, to express all the things that’ll pee me off, and at the same time, please me.

Hopefully if I do write Part 2, it’ll be more coherent and meaningful than this one.  This one, admittedly is a rant, and not a very good one either.

Random Music Moment #146

So just the other day I had issues with what kind of song I would blog about for the RMM.  Lately, I haven’t really been inspired by music lately, and it’s no wonder, since everything feels very similar lately, and also, my usual perkiness has been in the dips for one reason or another!  (One of which is the fact that I’ve started postgrad, and the stress of starting a new, different level of learning is getting to me, just like with various other things that are new.  I can’t help it, it’s just who I am.  Though strangely,  I have been worrying so much about a variety of things lately, that I’m losing myself of the rubble of worry that I’m beginning to despise.)  But yesterday, I was having a nice lazy evening in front of the couch, not in the mood much, and my eyes were drooping–I don’t know my limits, but with the recent change in my sleeping schedule, my body is being rebellious and uncooperative haha!–I decided to amuse myself with a variety of fun but sort of rather farfetched quizzes (now I’ve forgotten which site it was, but usually these Quizzes are like ‘which movie is based on your life?’ ‘We can guess your age in 5 questions’ and if those of you have followed my twitter feed, you’ll have seen me tweet about a couple of quiz results.

The first one was about the brain, whether it’s more male than female, etc (turns out my brain is 75% male and only 25% female if I were to really believe it.  Which I partly do, since I’ve noticed that I find typical ‘female’ (if I were to stereotype it) behaviour as really annoying and pointless.  In saying that, I also find myself doing the same things every now and then.  No surprise, I am female after all!  The Quiz about what kind of weather my anger is like, seemed pretty accurate.  I do feel like my anger is like lightning and thunder.  When I get angry, I do yell, I also spark and say things I don’t entirely want to say aloud, generally provocative, and I cry.  Sometimes.  A couple of people I know have anger that’s like a silent storm–quiet, yet raging internally, or like a volcano, simmering for a long time, before finally erupting!  Mind you, it’s no surprise I turned out the way I did with my anger, particularly when the people around me generally like to go silent–see why I end up saying provocative things?  I don’t like the silence, so I get angry, worked up, and try and provoke a certain number of people out of their silence to respond to me.  And while I generally feel better, and in control, sometimes I regret it (there’s only so much you can say before you push someone over the ledge).

But anyway, moving away from my angry habits, since I’m sure you all don’t really care and I’m blabbering on since I suddenly feel in the mood to stretching my fingers on my keyboard and avoid other work by procrastination, let me get to today’s RMM.

One of the random quizzes I took yesterday, purely out of curiosity was called ‘What song was written about you?”  And with these quizzes, the answers to the questions are pretty limited, and sometimes you wonder why you’re doing something so stupid.  Yet it’s really fascinating and fun seeing how these quizzes can sketch this image of you based on your answers to the questions they provide.  Some people only do each Quiz once and take that result, me, I’m not that superstitious, and nor do I really care.  I just do the quizzes for fun even though some are just so silly!  When I took the song Quiz though, I was surprised to find that I didn’t disagree with it.  Sure, some of the results on the other quizzes had me wondering….um?  For example, I did one quiz and it said I was introspective/introverted.  Did another (similar but different direction and objective) and it told me that I was a very social person.  Granted, I can be both–I’m Pisces after all, two fishes, drawn almost like Yin and Yang, a constant cycle of positive and negative, and one of the most sociable, easy going signs on the whole astrological chart.  Even if I don’t religiously follow the Star Signs, I’m aware of them (I’m not religious at all), and while I generally don’t believe in horoscopes and stuff, and feel like all the star signs are pretty general about their categorisations, even I have to say I’m definitely a Pisces girl through and through.  We hide our emotions, and relatively easy to talk to.  We worry obsessively, yet also accept the rational logic behind things.  We are generally happy people (I sure as hell want to be happy more than depressed in my life!) and we have our many weaknesses, usually tied with self, and usually related to indecisiveness, daydreaming, etc.  Again, very general, very stereotypical, but half the time I look at what one might write about a pisces personality, and it’s nice to see it so straightforwardly written out.

Oh boy, it seems I really am in a mood to stretch my writing today!  What I like about the result from my Song Quiz is the title of the song itself.  Plus, it’s also a song I know, and I love how powerful it is.  While I haven’t been in a relationship which makes me reminisce with the intricate details of the song’s contents, the title says it all.  Through thick and thin, though rough and happy times, through the hardest moments, choices, over the bridges I might have to cross, I will survive.  Nothing is the end of the world.  And even if it feels like it, there’s always something else.  Just don’t wallow about in a misery just because you’re afraid of making the next step.  You can see how you can be happy, and all you have to do is take that giant step out, and swing that arm.  Knock back the obstacle that’s holding you back.

That’s what I must remember.  And when I heard that song yesterday as the result of the quiz that took, I kind of laughed at the coincidence.  I guess I needed this reminder too!  Alongside my famous Quote post from yesterday this was just one more thing to push me.  Nag me.  And hopefully, yank me out of the circle of thoughts that have been going on in my head lately!

Finally, finally, after all my above ranting, today’s Random Music Moment is:  I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor.  A good old classic.

Music Moment: Australia in Eurovision!

Hooray!  I’m excited. I can’t believe Australia will perform in the grand final as Australia, and not as someone selected to perform for another country!

My apologies for disappearing again, but life takes its toll.  However, I have a quick moment to pop in to post about one of my favourite big events of the year!

Eurovision!

From tonight’s Australian broadcast of Eurovision, my top four favourites are below:

1:

2:

3:

4:

I loved most of all the songs in this year’s first Semi Final, but those two are just four that caught my attention the most!

And even though  they chose Guy Sebastian for representing Australia, I still look forward to it!  For the anniversary of Eurovision, Australia gets to perform as Australia ^^ so happy right now!  Even more so that #SBSEurovision is trending on twitter!!!

And now, on to tomorrow night!

Inspiration is…3

That languid depressing feeling at the sight of the overcast sky that just makes me want to write about love….

A Quaint dream: Words and thoughts, passages of prose, like a faint passing dream from my recent trip. Part Twelve.

PART TWELVE>

It came when the pup couldn’t sit still.  From my place on the ground, in my sleeping bag, I squint in the darkness at the pup who is sniffing around the door.  Her nose runs along the trapezium shape of my tent room, and her growl escapes her lips with a sense of threat.  I tell her to shut up, but she keeps growling, growling until it erupts into a bark and then barking until she can’t stop, not even at my command. 

And then she does stop.  Her ears, still folded like a puppy, perk up, and her eyes look as the ears scan the air for noise.

It began with a rustle.  A scuttle, snapping of twigs, and the sound of a falling cup to drive the pup to the edge.  She barked and barked and barked, her voice commanding and angry.  She starts running around the tent room, past my head, my side, legs, feet, the door, and back round.  She can’t stop barking as she raises her forelegs to attack the walls of the tent. 

And I think, it’s just my imagination.  It’s just my imagination.  We’re in a farm, with no one around, it’s nothing, just the sound of nature, there’s no way there’s a murderer out there. 

My brother is already snoring, fast asleep.  I don’t know about my parents.  I don’t know if they’re still awake.  I don’t care, because I’m busy squeezing my eyes shut trying to sleep.  I try because I woke up at four in the morning.  I try because I’m tired, yet I can’t get it out of my mind that someone was walking to our tent.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that we are not alone.

I scream at her to shut up.  And she does.  I use my harshest tone and she sits, her eyes are wide as they look at me, just moments before she starts bending over, ready to roll on her back.  I have my arm raised, a threat to gently punish her nose, but she rolls over.

I smile, it’s cute, so lightly, I tap her nose and tell her ‘no’.  She understands, and while I settle back into bed, she stays quite.  But the minute I close my eyes, she starts growling and then, she barks again.  I tell myself, it’s a good thing that she’s unsettled, it means she doesn’t trust the area.  She’s a good guard dog for a little thing.  She’s a good girl.  But she wouldn’t shut up.  She’s at the door and she’s barking harder.  Hard enough to shatter my eardrums. 

I close my eyes and try to listen in between the barking to see if I could distinguish between the sounds, but I can’t hear a thing except the cricket. 

At last I’m frustrated and annoyed enough to slam the sleeping bag away.  I stand up, after a few sharp words to her, I grab a torch.  I take a peek into my brother’s room, but it’s like he’s deaf or something.  He’s not even showing a sign of life. 

‘Idiot,’ I mumble and fumble with her collar and leash.  She doesn’t stop squirming once as I put it on.   Even as I open the door, she’s the first out, barking like crazy. 

I don’t dare to talk.  I’m spinning horror stories in my head again.  One part of me is telling myself not to let her go too far ahead of me.  She might get eaten.  The other part was saying go slowly.  If I do, then maybe I’ll see the attack before it happens. 

I stick my head out of the tent.  It’s cold.  But a summer chill, that’s refreshing and not freezing at all.  I look left and right.  I can’t see anything and I dearly hoped there was nothing there.  Then slowly I take my foot out.  Left first, search for shoe, balance then steady.  Then I stick out my right and zip the tent up in one shot.  It’s a trial, but the minute it’s closed I’m on my guard, my torch on and looking around for the smudge of white.  She’s barking at a tree and I flash my torch that way. 

I see a pair of eyes in the grass next to the tent, and I screamed. 

A Quaint dream: Words and thoughts, passages of prose, like a faint passing dream from my recent trip. Part Eleven.

It’s interesting, as I type up the stuff in my notebook how different the first parts of my journey to the middle of my journey were, I mean, I look at Part 1 – 8 and then Part 9 – Part 11.  The first part really concentrates on laying out a “setting” feeling and the second concentrates on “character” feelings…they’re really different.  I think I started to scare myself a bit too much in the second part,well, it makes sense, quiet places disturb me, and even though I’m a partial fan of horrors, it seems my imagination gets a little hyperactive at the chance to weave my own scary story.  Hmm…maybe in the future, I might turn my experiences into an actual story…

 

PART ELEVEN>

It was hot as we put the poles together for the tent.  The sun beat down on my neck and I felt the sweat drip down.  There was a cool breeze that blew from the sea below us.  We were perched at the edge of the land, yet if I were to go down to the water, I would have to walk a little further.  From where I was standing, on the edge of the flat earth, I could see the rows and rows of oyster sticks for the oyster farm.  It was a calming, breezy sight.  Very beautiful, very frightening.  For this to be so calm in this place that is so vacant, so alone, in the countryside, I’m not bothered.

I’m not bothered by the circle of caravans to our right.  I’m not bothered by the smoke that rises from them even though I can’t see anyone there.  I’m not bothered at all.  And yet, I can’t stop looking around every time I heard an unusual sound.  I can’t stop flinching even in the daylight. 

Again I remember that stupid movie. 

But I tell myself I’m not scared. 

I’m not scared at all.

We’re not alone.  Not at all.  People live here.  There’s an oyster farm, houses, caravans with smoke.  We’re not alone. 

So why am I unnerved by the sight of my pup wandering around sniffing the ground?  Why does it scare me when I can’t see her, just because she hid under the trailer and only her leash is visible?  Why do I try so desperately to make her eat and drink when she doesn’t want to?

As the afternoon progresses, my pup becomes more and more unsettled.  She can’t stop snelling everywhere.  She can’t stop moving.  We tie her to the gazebo, her leash long and free, but she wanders down past the tent I share with my brother, to the cliff edge.  And every time we had to haul her back.  She is unsettled.  And it makes me unsettled.  All of a sudden I can help but think, what she is smelling?  Even though I know that it’s a new place and that she’s not accustomed to it yet, I still can’t help but think, maybe she’s found something disturbing?  Especially when it’s the same spot constantly and when she constantly wants to walk down to the water through the long green grass and down a steep metre or two cliff.  It unsettles me.  Maybe she’s found a dead body?

A Quaint dream: Words and thoughts, passages of prose, like a faint passing dream from my recent trip. Part Ten.

This really does feel more fiction than fact. But the place where we went, I really felt freaked out at first, as though I was in a freaky horror movie.  I literally started writing a horror story in my head…and that’s how it comes out on paper…so Part Nine, Ten and I think Eleven and Twelve will be a little different to what I’ve written so far… 

PART TEN>

…The car shudders, and my dad swears, waving his hand in the back mirror of the idiot driver, his hand showing a rude gesture.

We turn back, and we drive a kilometre or two back the way we came, our eyes peeled on the left side of the road.  We watch the golden landscape framed in green fly past as we watch for the side that will show us the way.  I’m the first one to jump and shout.  I point, and my dad slams his foot on the brakes. 

As we reverse and turn into the narrow dusty gravel lane, I’m blinded by the sun and the sight of yellowed grass.

At first I’m elated that we’re finally here and we pull up to the big, abandoned-like house.  Outside there is are two people washing a bus.  It’s an old bus, not even a normal bus that’s just worn from use, but a bus that looks as though it came from another century.  My dad parks, and walks over to the gentleman holding the hose.  I can’t hear them talking, even though their loud voices are resounding back to us.  Their words are indistinct, and faint as though passing through a barrier of water.  I watch.

The building behind them is double storey.  It has worn pale yellow rendered walls and a semi-circle balcony sticking out the front.  At the side, behind the bus is a metal emergency exit leading to a door.  I can’t tell if it’s dark because it’s shaded or dark from the paint.  I can’t tell, but it’s like a blackhole in a sea of summer sunshine.  And I get that wash of eeriness once again, I shudder.

My dad comes back with a smile on his face.  And we venture further into the farm.  There’s a house up ahead, two houses, with a sign at the front.  As we neared, the texture of the road becomes rough and harsh, causing the car to jump high on its suspension.

We turn right and we pass between a shed sheltering a caravan and another parked in the middle of the mowed land.  Even in broad daylight, they look dark and abandoned.  With the shutters drawn and their doors shut, there’s no one home.  With the deceiving clothes line with clothes on it, you think, oh, there’s someone that lives here.  But as I look closer, at the one person tent next to the shed, I realise it couldn’t be possible. 

Lying across the tent was a branch from the tree above.  As we slowly drive past, I feel my breath catch with fear, as I ask myself, who lives here?

 

A Quaint dream: Words and thoughts, passages of prose, like a faint passing dream from my recent trip. Part Nine.

So this post is more fiction than fact, though there is fact interwoven, my imagination did get a little hyperactive…

PART NINE>

 

…It was near midday when we arrived.  Coming down the highway, going up the Eastern coast on the Australian map, it was a pretty standard section of the highway.  Plain, grey tarmac, with white lines down the sides and middle, some dotted and some solid.  The car, follows, gently rounding each corner, with a firm grip and a grace-like performance.  I feel calm as I look out the window, up into the sturdy, solid, skinny trees.  I don’t know their names.  I don’t know what they are, but the light that streams through their dry yet most like atmosphere, is almost magical.  It twinkles, almost.  It dazzles, definitely.  And it highlights the leaves on the trees; skinny and long and dry, some green, some pale brown. 

In the front seat and the back, family members Mum, Dad and Bro, were totally arguing about something.  Left, right, back, forth, they argued about whether it the upcoming turn, the one after, or the one passed.  It was just an ordinary argument, one of an annoyed driver, who needs, desperately, to know which is the road to turn off, and which isn’t, not “oh, maybe it was that” or “Darling, it was that one!”  One was a passenger seat driver, whose past time was to not really pay attention, even though she was paying attention, and then make comments, that were relevant, but in the long run, not really useful, because they were always a moment too late.  And the other, happened to be looking at the roughly drawn map, trying his best to pinpoint the relevant roads to the ones that had passed. Overall, he was failing.

As for me, I couldn’t help the tingling, unsettled feeling that was creeping up my arms.  I snatched the paper from my Bro and looked at the ballpoint drawing.  Its crass, and bland, with a line or two there representing roads leading off the curly squiggly of the main highway.

And I said, ‘Go back.  We passed it,’ but it’s like I’m being ignored.  And I think, oh who cares?  But I watch, this scene is too friendly, too normal to be comfortable.  I feel the change in the air, the darkening of the sky, the uncomfortable feeling welling in my gut as I turn my head back to the window.  I feel a little dizzy as I watch the forest slipping past me, their lower half covered in black from some hell bent fire.

I remember the stupid movie I’d watched a few nights before.  Advertised as some kind of thriller, I expected a thrilling ride, only to discover it was a rather low budget two character film set in an isolated camping place, ending in a murder suicide.  Oh yeah, did I mention the dugong that was dragged to the campsite, with no explanation whatsoever, except that it was a plot device for scaring the second main character?  And, that’s right, the dog is the only one who survives, purely because he’s left behind in the car when his owner runs mad with fear, right up to the point where he’s smashed to gory bits by an oncoming trucker.  Lame.  Except when the car I’m travelling pulls to the side of the two lane highway, on a rather rounded curve, not particularly dangerous, but still, I’m unsettled by the thought of highway horror crashes.

Dad takes out his phone and dials, while our pup is wandering around the car looking for a nice view of her owner.  For some time she’d been out, car sick, sleeping in front of the air-con with her folded ears sticking up.  She was an energetic little thing.  But it isn’t until later, when I’d feel unsettled by her constant state of unsettledness. 

The highway is barren, a car or two passes every so often.  Even the car and caravan that’s been with us most of the way pass us.  We’ve speculated several times on the destination of that car, but we never found out.  Still, it was a past time.  But now that we were lost, at the end of our journey, I think we’re all a little stressed.

I watch carefully as my dad talks on the phone outside.  He’s walking around smoking, talking loudly like there’s a problem with the speaker on his phone.  My bro looks a little worn, and my mum is teasing the pup.  But I’m queasy, so I open my wind a little.  What if I was wrong?  What if the road we had to go to was too small to spot?  Where are we going? 

My dad looks a little pissed.  And several more cars pass us on the highway, each one rattling our car as they fly by.  I grip the door, a little panicked, but okay.  That is, until one passes too close to us, just as my dad hangs up his phone…